Reset or Resubmit

Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.
~ C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

RESET Notice

The icons introduced earlier this month were met with such a fine reception. Thank you. We’ve decided to use them some more! It was several weeks ago when one of you wrote:

With the new change of limited resubmissions, is there anyway we can have the little circle arrow change when they have reached the limit?

You should be very familiar with both starring members in our icon play this week. You know what they mean just by looking …

icons

They’ve taken on expanded meaning with this week’s update. The developers have taken your suggestion above and added some help for you when hovering over the icons. This applies to EXAM RESETS and any ASSIGNMENT RESUBMISSIONS. These are the basic possible states with any exam or assignment:

  1. The student cannot resubmit or reset.
  2. The student can reset the exam one more time.
  3. The student can reset or resubmit a variable number of times.
  4. The student can resubmit or reset an unlimited number of times.

When hovering over either of these icons in the Student Grade Report, a tooltip will let you know the status for student resets or resubmissions. Some different possibilities are shown here:

resets

If there is no icon, then the assessment never allowed for any resubmission or reset at all.

Hiding Passwords

Here is an excerpt from an email regarding another recent improvement …

Recently there was a change made to expose the Global Password in a student gradebook, when a teacher is viewing them. The global password data element is also present when a teacher clicks on the “copy” button from a student gradebook as well.
The data element being present when copy is clicked is a bit problematic as the teachers use the copy button to create IPPs in Excel. Since the change, when an IPP is created, teachers must manually remove the global password.
Is there any chance that can be removed from the data captured when the copy button is pressed?

More work? We don’t want to give you more work! As you know, we appreciate knowing when enhancements in one arena MIGHT cause problems in another. Without feedback like yours above, we’d never know. So, thank you!
And just to prove our gratitude, The Global/Proctor Password show/hide button remains for your convenience. From this point on … when you copy/paste or export the table, the TITLE will remain, but the passwords will not show. They will look like this:

passwords3

Remember to hide the ones you’ve shown, and all should be well again. As always, please keep us posted.

Announcement

listen3

We have scheduled a planned outage this Sunday (March 29) morning from 1am to 4am. We will be making infrastructure improvements that require a shutdown. So, if you or your students enjoy working in those wee hours, please make other arrangements. We apologize for any inconvenience, but it was the slowest time we could find.

Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
~ Spock, The Wrath of Khan (1982)

spock_kirk

Agility!

We told you that we listen! And now we show you that we act!
Based on your responses and suggestions this morning, some changes have already been rolled out. This post represents the most recent information.

FONTS

The font for student submissions has been changed. It’s not only different; it’s slightly larger. The background color for ALL student submissions within Educator (essays, assignments, etc.) is a pale yellow. If you see any other color please let us know with a screenshot:

font4

 

REMOVE Comments

The REMOVE COMMENT button color has been changed to a less vicious gray color. We have also added a confirmation dialogue. Whenever you choose to remove a student comment, you will need to OK the action in the next window.

remove3

Passwords

There were some rightful concerns about displaying passwords in the student grade report. Some of you like using screenshots, and this would have impeded your ability to do so. Clicking the lock icon will now display and hide passwords in the roster.

password5

Enjoy your weekend, and thank you for the feedback. Keep us on our toes!

Juggling

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.
~ Arthur Conan Doyle

juggling

We spent some time this week juggling your ideas. There were big ones and small ones. We’re still going through your thoughts and comments, so please keep sharing them for each other and us. Meanwhile, your words …

Exam Passwords

Hello! I was wondering if, when looking at a student’s gradebook, it would be possible to put the exam password for that student in the “actions” box or somewhere more accessible than going through the several steps of opening the exam tab and searching for the student’s password individually. Thank you for always considering our ideas!

passwordsYes, we certainly do consider EVERY idea that crosses our desktops. We just cannot possibly act on every single one right away. You know that, and we know you don’t expect us to do so. That doesn’t mean that we ignore any words you take the time to write here, on our Facebook page, or via email. No idea or comment goes unnoticed.

Some take longer to ponder than others. Some might even require dialogue with your leadership. Some just take more time than others for us to process. Every idea is worth our time. Many of your ideas eventually do become a reality for everyone. Take the one above as an example …

It is now simpler for you to reach a student’s exam password!

On the student’s grade report the exams will show the password assigned to the student. This will apply whether via Global Password or Proctored Password. We hope this one idea helps many of you. Please let us know.

Font Readability

Sometimes we just aren’t sure how best to handle a request. This was another recent comment on our Facebook page:

Any way we can get a few more font options? Courses where spelling is an issue could use a way to easily distinguish tricky letters (example: can you tell that these are 2 different letters: l / I?)

Hmmm … we do not have rich text capabilities at this time. This doesn’t mean we are not working on it; it only means that there are some roads and bridges yet to be built. In the meantime we are working to approach a better solution. The letters that were specifically brought into question were the uppercase “I” (I) and the lowercase “L” (l). When a student submits writing contained within an assessment, the default font has now been changed.

comments2

 

This will apply only to student content such as essay submissions on exams or comments on assignments. Look at the word Illinois in the examples above. Keep us posted on this. Your feedback has always been helpful.

Icon Real Estate

Finally, these thoughtful comments were made on a recent blog entry:

Can students have a quick access link to their gradebook? I would rather them access their assignments via the gradebook than the assessments because then they are forced to see what assignments need to be revised and resubmitted.

This was followed by:

I second this. Newer students often don’t know where to go to resubmit assignments.

And then the use case was emphasized:

Yes, please add the Gradebook. When parents talk to me, one of their most frequently asked question is where can they find the Gradebook?

These were all good points. After reading these comments and engaging in some conversations, we had to consider the precious value of our toolbar real estate. Where do we stop adding icons? We do not want to drown students in icons. Then we thought about the problem …

Students (and parents) might actually have a hard time seeing the Gradebook link:

menu_old3

What could we do about this without adding a new icon to the student toolbar? What could be done to make the Gradebook link easier to find? We juggled many possible solutions and finally just added some space and a separator line to the student’s menu:

menu_new3

With some guidance from you and a little reading on their part, we hope your students will have an easier time finding their gradebook. We know it’s small; we know it’s not a new icon. It does save our/their/your precious real estate. Let’s see how well it works.

I’m a strong believer that you practice like you play, little things make big things happen.
~ Tony Dorsett

Behind the Scenes

What you don’t see backstage is what really controls the show.
~ Sarah Sutton

It’s true! If you have ever been involved in amateur (or professional) theater, you know about the powerful backstage chemistry running through all members of the cast and crew. It’s that behind-the-scenes magic that indeed controls the show. According to the dictionary, that prepositional phrase means out of public view. Happenings taking place behind the scenes generally receive no credit or fame. These are hidden away like backstage chemistry …

credit due to distractify

credit due to distractify

Why do our developers do what they do backstage? You won’t see it; you will likely miss it, but it’s there. There were a host of improvements made in the backend this week. Little by little, these hidden improvements will mount up and reduce the load on servers and bandwidth.

bandwidth2

Reduced load means incrementally improved performance. Eventually, this will mean greater appreciation and satisfaction for you and your students. This is why your Educator developers do what they do … behind the scenes.

There is one backend enhancement made this week that actually has a face you can see! While this might best impact curriculum writers, it could be an interesting tool for instructors and team leaders as well. We have added ADVANCED TRACKING exports for exam questions. As so many ideas come from you …

My Professional Learning Community Group is using advanced question statistics for our project. It would be super-helpful if the statistics were exportable to Excel. The questions themselves wouldn’t need to be included. We could look at those after we narrowed our focus using the spreadsheet.

For now this applies ONLY to individual instructor shells. It also only applies to ACTIVE students. NOTE: The advanced tracking export works on ONE exam for ONE teacher with ACTIVE students only. To give it a try … navigate (1) from the MAIN MENU to Exams. Then select (2) Gradebook from the ACTIONS button:

track1adv

Click (3) on the button ADVANCED QUESTION STATISTICS. Scroll through the exam page to the bottom and choose (4) your EXPORT format. Find your download and open in your choice of program.

track2adv

Your download will include all exam questions, pooled or not. In other words,. If there are 15 questions in the pool and only 10 on the exam, your export will track and show results for all 15 questions. Archived students can surely be restored for this purpose as needed. Let’s see where this takes us and you.

piOne final announcement … Saturday is Pi Day.
This year it’s a once in a lifetime celebration. Pi is equal to 3.141592653.
Not only will the month and date line up, but so will the year and time!
Remember this when you look at the clock at 9:26:53 on Saturday, 3/14/15.

Know what your customers want most and what your company does best.
Focus on where those two meet.
~ Kevin Stirtz

 

 

Icon Story

Arthur Brisbane

Arthur Brisbane (1864-1936) – photo credit Library of Congress

A picture is worth a thousand words.
~ Unknown

There is no credible certainty regarding the origin of those words above. We do know the overall concept was loosely suggested in the nineteenth century via writings penned like this, “The drawing shows me at one glance what might be spread over ten pages in a book.”
(Ivan S. Turgenev, Fathers and Sons (1862))

Greater clarity and more succinct wording were actually provided in a presentation by newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane to the Syracuse Advertising Men’s Club in 1911. A segment of his editorial counsel in that presentation to this group read as follows …
“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.”
That’s more than close enough for our purposes.

So, what is the picture we are painting here? Let’s begin with your own words …

I want to recommend making the “Lessons” page more visible to students. The Lessons page is where students actually read and learn the content for their course. Students should spend at least 80% of their time in the “Lessons” page. Yet to access these Lessons, students have to hunt around for them.

And to quote another idea in the same vein …

Any chance we can get the most used icon on the toolbar (students, assessments – like the email icon)?

There were some other email messages and suggestions regarding shortcuts to navigation for both teachers and students. The development team researched to find out where both groups were most likely to travel. It turned out that the primary destinations for teachers were not identical as those for students. Teachers most often visited their workload (ASSESSMENTS) and the STUDENTS roster. Students also visited their own workload (ASSESSMENTS) and the LESSONS. Both groups already had instant access to EMAIL, HOME, and the MAIN MENU. The job for this week was to create ready access to those Educator sections targetged above. It began with a gathering of icons:

icons large

PLEASE NOTE: The icons above are reversed, black vs. white, from those on your actual toolbar. The MAIN MENU icon has not changed. It’s the universally accepted icon for main menus everywhere. This icon is now joined by ASSESSMENTS for both teachers and students. In addition … students will see LESSONS on the toolbar, and teachers will see STUDENTS.

Views were obviously developed for laptop/desktop screens for teachers:

icondesk_teacher

… as well as students:

icondesk_student

During our testing with the FLVS QA team, it was suggested that the same icons needed likewise presentation on mobile devices. Why not add them to the toolbar on tablets and phones? After a return trip to the drawing board, these icons were also added to the current mobile toolbar for both teachers (blue) and students (green):

iconsmobile

These new toolbars have been tested for a couple of weeks. They are being released to all users at this time. We trust that these navigation enhancements will be well received. Please let us know what you think.

Customer service is not a department; it’s everyone’s job.
~ Anonymous

 

Taking A Look

Know what your customers want most and what your company does best.
Focus on where those two meet.
~ Kevin Stirtz

binocularsWe’ve received quite a few inquiries about enhancements that have appeared on the pages of this blog over the past couple of years. While it is not complete, the list and links below should get anyone started on an exploration of the roads we’ve traveled together in an effort to better customize your Educator learning management system.

There has been a lot of work over long hours through many lines of code. It has been a journey that we have enjoyed and look forward to enjoying with you even more.

During the time marked by the enhancements below, there were also other major innovations. Working together with the VSA Team, we managed to dramatically bring our integration even closer to real-time. Educator itself sports a whole new look with interactive tables. The drive toward mobile has shaped your new toolbar. We have taken steps toward prescriptive delivery, and we are working to assimilate personalized learning. Dynamic pace charts are just around the corner.

The list of categories below is very loose at best. We have created four basic groups:

  • Communication – facilitating the creation or sharing of information
  • Management – keeping things organized or highlighted
  • Experience – making life generally simpler or neater for users
  • Evaluation – having to do with grading or tracking

Practically everything fits into two or more categories. We just wanted some way to help narrow your/our searches.

COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT
Supervisor communications Added school of record
Grade Communications Improved password usage
Submission communication File management improvements
Student Reset controls Segment notifications
Usage Log upgrade Batch Exemption
Date/Time stamp added VSA integration speed
Supervisor Email Automation Updated and sortable tables
Email Autoreply Bulk exemption hot buttons
Supervisor email customization Sorting Enhancements
Email Filtering Increased TA power
Email course filters Expanded table sorting
Feedback Snippets Student Notifications
Percent Complete Essay Flags
Collaboration Finder Suspension Manager functions
Notification upgrades Assessment signatures
Student reminders School of record data
Snippet variables Forcing upgrade
Tweaking diary Exemptions Update
Email addressing Global/Edit Announcements
Forcing Dates
USER EXPERIENCE Advanced student tracking
Email simplification Segment Focus
Workload filtering Student folder express
Sliding navigation Voice Activity counts
New custom filtering Snippet tagging
Honors Notice Expanded TA roles
Course Arranger Student attendance
Create Grading Workflow Usage log export
Email Icons Last assignment warning
Batch file upload
View Student Workload EVALUATION
Assignments Modernization Better facilitate exam resets
Exam Unlock Reset verifications
Multiple downloads Added percentages
Information positioning Last submission
Expanded Downloads Add Exemption documentation
Teacher Notes Advanced Tracking
Student uploads Next Ungraded Essay
Folder Enhancements Resubmitted notations
Teacher Notes Results on the fly
Sort column control Expanded exam data
Responsive design Reset Notifications
Exam formats Exam outcomes
Navigation shortcuts Exam reset rules
Default course entry
Customized notifications
Whiteboard upgrade
Hotkeys

Those links above should help refresh your memory or hopefully trigger even newer ways to make Educator better. This brief look over our shoulder has given our team even more energy to move forward. There are some really exciting things on our plates right now. We genuinely look forward to serving them to you. Thanks for dropping by and taking a look.

Happiness … consists in giving, and in serving others.
~ Henry Drummond

Then and Now

In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
~ Bertrand Russell

Hanger273We pause to sit back from time to time and soak up our surroundings. We recollect the roads traveled and recall how we have arrived where we are. It’s a good time to take a look at how we have done things; it’s a moment to assess how we continue to do things; we can even architect how we might do things better tomorrow.

We have taken time in recent days to ask ourselves many questions. We have managed to hang some of those question marks on a few of our Educator hooks, and we’re here today to share some of those answers. We’re done sitting back, so keep feeding us your ideas. Just take a look below. We take absolutely no credit for generating all these ideas. We only take credit for our listening carefully then and our doing something about it now. Let’s talk a look at … then and now.

 

Actions: Students Page

roster_1A

I have an idea regarding the new “actions” drop-down menu in a student’s grade report. Can we also have it on the “students” page? Many times I open a grade report just so I can email a student or view the usage log. It would save time to have the menu in both places.

Consider some time has now been saved! You now have a more direct path to where you need to go! It’s all about saving steps:

roster_1B

Sorting: Student Folders

folder_1A

Can you create columns in the student folders, such as the assignment association or the last modified date, so we can sort the files? Many times, students attach picture files of their work that they took on their phone. I always find myself spending a few minutes in a student’s folder, when I’m looking for the work to support their test answers. It would help if I could find the last file they uploaded or the name of the assignment with which they associated the file.

Let’s make all those little labels and pieces of data useful! The metadata has now been programmed into separate columns. Each column can be sorted as you’ve grown to expect and enjoy:

folder_1B

Percentages: Essay Questions

scores_1A

I love how when I fat finger a grade on an assignment, I get the little warning. Can you have the same thing when we fat finger an essay response grade? Like if I accidentally type 34 instead of 4 … I get a warning?

Some ideas just read and lead right into others. This one scores as a double-winner (as shown below):
#1 – Whenever you score an essay, you’ll see the percentage of possible points earned.
#2 – If that “fat finger” credits more points than those allowed, there will be no entry.

scores_1B

 Let us know what you think. Keep those ideas flying. Add one. Comment on another. Help us make a difference. And thanks in advance.

Now and then, someone is able to look at an empty space, conclude it would be a great place to start a revolution, and bravely go forward.
~ Henry Rollins

Hotkeys, Hotkeys, HOTKEYS!

That’s right folks, we’ve been listening to your requests again. We know you love the “Next essay” button on exams. Some of you found the old one in the way, so we moved it. Others like it where it was because it was closer to the action. The first bit of awesomeness we’re releasing this week isn’t something you’ll see but something that will make grading essay questions faster.  This week we’ve added a custom set of hot keys also know as keyboard shortcuts to navigate to the next essay question. From now on instead of using the “Next essay” button you can simply hit “ALT + N” at the same time to go to the next ungraded essay question while in an exam or in a worksheet.

Notice I said worksheet there?  Yeah, we’ve added the Assessment information box to worksheets in addition to exams.

From our Facebook group:

I love how on exams you can skip down to the first ungraded essay. Can you add that same feature to worksheets?

Going forward we’ll do a better job at keeping feature parity between exams and worksheets, so bear with us while we catch up a bit.

Our parting gift this week is a teaser of things to come.

Enhancements to the Course Roster.

Screen shot of the course roster showing new "Actions" menu.

 

Enhancements to the Student folders.

Screen shot of the student folders after enhancement.

 

Enhancements to the Toolbar.

Screen shot of two new buttons on the Toolbar.

 

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.
~ Ernest Hemingway

For those curious of the title, it is a reference to The Lego Movie scene where Benny builds his dream spaceship, sold separately of course.

Better Late?

Better late than never.
~ Titus Livius, Livy’s History of Rome

There are times when days just seem to get lost. Yes, this entry is late. Some members of our team are working an FETC booth at the Orlando Convention Center, and we are still here. The WeatherSTEM division of our company is getting an enthusiastic response on the convention floor. We have managed to take live data and integrate it into classroom learning opportunities. It’s an exciting next step in our innovation roadmap.

fetc2

Many teachers like you are excited about engaging their students with live data. The Florida Giveaway has people filling out an application just to get involved. Maybe your home county should join us as well? Give it some thought. Now it’s time to get back to Educator enhancements … in your own words.

ONE

When a gradebook is exported, is there a way to show all assignments that have been submitted and not yet graded? I work with the gradebook all of the time. Would it be possible to add a feature that allows me to know which assignments have been submitted and are not yet graded through the gradebook?

For those of you who like exporting and importing the gradebook, the developers have added the code to help accomplish this goal. Happy?

export2

TWO

Can we get a warning on last assignment submitted dates? Maybe a date of last assignment submitted that turns red after 7 days? Or a two-color variable set by teacher? Not sure what the time period should be, but I like the color warning of sorts.

This one struck developers here as an interesting idea. The fastest route to get you where you want to get just makes efficiency sense. Here is the new color-coding scheme for last assignment submitted data.

colors2

  • Red = more than 7 days
  • Yellow = between 4 and 7 days
  • Green = less than 4 days

A quick glance at that Last Submitted column should tell you something worth knowing now. What do you think?

THREE

Our final suggestion for this week is a long one.

Would it be possible to allow teachers to “modify” lessons by putting their own comments in that students see when they open the assessment in the gradebook? I see we can currently do this, but it refreshes each evening so it is not a working feature for us. I would like to use this feature to help with the directions or give reminders (example: “Remember that I’m looking for 3 paragraphs on this one!” or “Call me at XXXX to complete this discussion” or even a fun sticker to encourage them . . .)
I know we can do a forcing slide after they submit, but as a teacher, I would love to have them see my tips and reminders as they are submitting. I get lots of resubmissions on the same mistakes and would love to be preemptive. Students would love it, too!!

We got the message! Teachers can now add reminders to students for all assessments. These reminders are separate from the assessment instructions and are not shared between course shells of the same course ID.

To create/edit them, go to the appropriate assessment screen and click on the ACTIONS button.
Choose Edit Assessment Reminder.

reminder1

Craft your helpful words to students in the Assessment Reminder window, Remember to select SAVE.

reminder2

Reminders will appear to students on the assessment screen in a blue information box below the assessment title.

reminder3

Your assignment tips and hints will remain with the assignment for all students until you edit or delete it. We hope this helps. Please let us know. Now it’s back to FETC!

There is an immeasurable distance between late and too late.
~ Og Mandino

 

Glance Back

All the holiday trimmings have finally been put away for another year. Likely there are remnants hiding and waiting to be discovered at some inconvenient time. Looking back over last month’s dialogues, a few of you have previously noticed how the new whiteboard just snuck in right before holiday. We never did say much about it. We just left it under the holiday decor. Others mentioned how they never even knew it was there! We thought perhaps it was time to stop … and take a closer look back at that little surprise left behind at the winter solstice.

jagger

You better stop, look around.
Here it comes, here it comes.
~ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, 19th Nervous Breakdown

The old whiteboard has moved on. Did you notice? A newer whiteboard has taken its place. If you have not paid it a visit, take 5 minutes and just give it a look. Play with it a while. There are the usual drawing tools on the right side and some handy new ones along the top:

whiteboard2

There are two tools that really demand your attention, the Equation Editor and the Wolfram|Alpha. The editor is self-explanatory. It will create images on the “graph paper” for you to use. A really fascinating journey can begin with the Wolfram|Alpha. Exploring here might keep you engrossed for hours, especially if you teach any STEM subjects. This would really satisfy anyone with a curiosity about any body of knowledge. Go ahead and try it! Try this:

  • Open the Whiteboard
  • Select the WOLFRAM|ALPHA tool
  • Type/Copy into the text box … pennies to cover 2 square miles
  • SUBMIT

Or how about this?

  • Type/Copy into the text box … 10 almond M&M’s

Isn’t that something?

What else? You can even take a SNAPSHOT of your sheet:

snapshot2

Lots of the usual goodies, but did you notice Bobafett? You can upload the usual cast of characters (images) to this Whiteboard … even Word documents, Powerpoint shows, and PDF files! Just use the upload button and add files to your list of assets:

upload2

Give the new Whiteboard a whirl and let us know what you think.
It really is sometimes worthwhile to make the trip back, isn’t it?

getback

Get back, get back.
Get back to where you once belonged.
~ John Lennon and Paul McCartney